Study demonstrates significant increase in veterinary burnout


The Galaxy Vets and VIS research also addressed factors that affect burnout to ultimately help veterinary practices incorporate strategies for improving staff well-being.

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Veterinary Integration Solutions (VIS)—in partnership with Galaxy Vets—revealed findings from the Burnout Study in the Veterinary Profession. The continuing research spearheaded by Ivan Zakharenkov, “Zak,” DVM, MBA, founder of VIS and CEO of Galaxy Vets, analyzes the dynamics and factors affecting burnout rates across demographics and work settings with the end goal of helping veterinary clinics enhance team members’ well-being.

"Evidently, the pandemic stress and restrictions, amplified by the increase in pet ownership and shortage in the veterinary workforce, took their toll on the mental well-being of people in the profession," said Zak, in a company release.1

“This study aimed to look at the burnout rate among veterinary professionals and get a sense of professional fulfillment. We’re really interested in work-life balance in the profession in particular,” said Lauren Catenacci, PhD, head of people and culture at Galaxy Vets, in an interview with dvm360®.

“Then above and beyond that we were looking for understanding the factors that influence burnout so is it gender, age, specialization, caseload, work-life balance, goal setting, and whether or not your employer has a burnout prevention strategy,” she added.

The key results

Burnout rate increased in all groups over the past year

Comparative analysis displayed a substantial increase in burnout levels between 2020 and 2021.1 Participants reported higher levels of work exhaustion and interpersonal disengagement with a lower level of professional fulfillment.

Younger veterinary professionals and technicians remain at highest risk for burnout

Like last year’s findings, veterinary professionals under 30 years old are more susceptible to burnout and the most significant level of burnout was found among veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants.

“This stood out to me because by age alone, we’d expect young veterinary professionals to have a long career ahead of them, they are young. But with these burnout ratings, it becomes more concerning that our rising talent could be already leaving the profession,” commented Catenacci.

“The key questions become how can we create the organizational culture that keep those professionals in the industry,” she added.

Gender plays a major role in burnout levels

The study revealed gender-variant/non-conforming participants reported the highest level of burnout while females reported a significantly higher burnout rate compared to males.1

“I think we’re still exploring [why women are more burned out than men]. We have some hunches that a women’s tendency to take on more of the family care responsibilities or of the work-life balance, the ‘life’ responsibilities, while fully showing up for the patients and [clients] may actually contribute,” noted Catenacci.

“I’m looking forward to diving deeper into this in our next survey and really get a sense of what is burning out women more than men,” she continued.

Individuals with professional goals reported significantly less burnout

The hypothesis surrounding this was that veterinary professionals may be at higher risk of under-challenge burnout subtype due to their high-achieving personalities. The survey demonstrated that veterinary practitioners with professional goals are less likely to feel burned out and feel happier and more valued compared to their colleagues who don't set and record goals annually.

“Our results indicated that almost 75% of respondents don’t set or record their professional goals each year and while this is disappointing…from an organizational standpoint, it’s encouraging because it’s a very practical lever we can pull for change and it can potentially mitigate burnout,” Catenocci said.

Work-life balance is challenging for all veterinary professionals, particularly women

A positive correlation between professional fulfillment and work-life balance was found and a negative correlation between work-life balance and burnout.1 Additionally, women reported a significantly lower work-life balance than men.

Veterinary professionals want their employers to get involved

Those who reported that their employer has a burnout prevention strategy revealed a significantly lower burnout rate than others. Most participants indicated that they would like management to help them accomplish improved work-life balance.

"There is a need to expand our understanding of veterinary professionals' mental well-being, and by recognizing individual differences, take a more targeted approach to burnout prevention. One of the key findings this year is that practitioners who had professional goals reported significantly less burnout. It's a practical takeaway that can be immediately instrumentalized by veterinary professionals and practice leaders,” Zak stated.

Discover the entire study here:

To learn more about the study, a webinar will take place on Friday, December 17, 2021 at 4:00 pm to discuss findings. Register here:


VIS and Galaxy Vets' study reveals a significant increase in veterinary burnout. News release. Galaxy Vets. November 16, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2021.

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